2016 Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI MT Review

Posted on Mon ,08 Aug 2016 12:14 pm
Vaibhav Yedavi
Rating by CG: 
    
2016 Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI MT Review

Powerful turbo petrol engine and a manual gearbox in a limousine. Get excited.

 

I have experienced the frenzy of this 177bhp 1,798cc turbo petrol engine before. It was two years ago in the then new Skoda Octavia. Gentle taps on the accelerator pedal sent the car shooting ahead like a mini rocket. And that was just in normal mode. In sports mode the afterburners got activated. It was mayhem. The car flew through the open gaps in traffic and overtaking any vehicle on the highway was a breeze. It managed to put a smile on my face every single time the background went blur. The expression on the face of my passengers though was a concoction of smile, fear and probably shock.

 

2016 Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI Engine

But there was a problem you see. An engine as potent as this coupled to an automatic gearbox is a sacrilege. And a 7-speed automatic of the dual-clutch kind was the only option offered by Skoda. Though it had a sports/manual mode which allowed you to hold onto a gear till infinity and didn't dampen the excitement; the engine begged for a proper three pedal setup to take the engagement to the next level.

 

I recently got to experience just that. Nope, not in the Octavia, but its bigger sibling – the new Skoda Superb.

 

 

The 6-speed manual gearbox found in the Superb perfectly complements the 1,798cc turbo petrol engine. The shift action is not amongst the slickest, but the gear lever slots precisely into the well-defined gates of the box. The throws were a bit long but nothing beats the sheer involvement that a proper manual shift delivers.

 

2016 Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI manual gearbox

I was a little sceptical about the performance though as I thought the rocket engine must have lost some fizz propelling the Superb as it is 118kg heavier than the Octavia. So I took it out for some spirited driving. Oh boy was I wrong! On paper the Superb with the manual gearbox is around half a second slower to 100kmph from a standstill than the Octavia with the automatic, but in the real world both cars feel equally quick. The reason for this is the wider power band in which the peak power is generated and the extra 70Nm of torque available with the manual box. The engine note is particularly sweet above 3,500rpm and it will just rev happily to its 6,500rpm redline. It gets addictive very soon and you will want to rev the engine hard at every available opportunity just to hear it sing. However, NVH levels inside the cabin are well contained and it's a joy to sit behind the wheel and zone yourself out. 

 

The throttle input is on the sensitive side and hard to modulate with your analogue foot. Have you ever tried to balance the light switch in your home between the ‘on’ and ‘off’ position and failed miserably? It is a similar experience with the accelerator pedal of the Skoda Superb. I was going everywhere, very quickly!

 

 

The new Superb is based on VW’s modular MQB platform which also underpins the Octavia as well as the Audi A3, and is 75kg lighter than the previous generation model. It rides and handles in a manner a car of such large dimensions ideally shouldn’t be able to, unless it is a German luxobarge. On the fast but undulating highways I drove on, ride quality was almost flat with just a hint of vertical movement, while on the curved roads it absolutely masked its long wheelbase and nearly 5-metre length with fluid direction changes.

 

The light and direct steering rack helped in placing the car precisely on a twisty section, and it’s only when I was driving very fast through those sections did I realise that there is a lot of car hanging behind. The standard fitted Hankook tyres are the weakest link in the whole setup though. They start squealing the moment you plan to do some enthusiastic driving. The understeer on those fast corners though is kept in check by the trick electronic locking differential which brakes the inside front wheels and tucks the car onto the desired line. I would strongly recommend upgrading the rubber to enjoy a better driving experience.

 

 

2016 SKoda Superb 1.8 TSI front design

The old Superb was not the most pleasing car to look at, with the limousine like side profile and the long front and rear overhangs giving it a very disproportionate stance. The new one is longer, wider and taller and even has a longer wheelbase. But it looks smaller and lithe. The visual trickery is the handiwork of a team lead by Jozef Kabaň. He is the one who designed the Bugatti Veyron. Like the Octavia, the superb is actually a hatchback which is designed to look more like a sedan.

 

2016 Skoda Superb headlamp

 

2016 Skoda Superb tail-lamps

The sharp and angular design language with the sculpted clamshell bonnet, character line running across the side profile, a flowing roofline, and a sculpted rear with an amalgamation of convex and concave surfaces cleverly mask the larger dimensions of the car. There are some nice details too found in the headlamps and tail-lamps inspired by the Bohemian crystal art which the Czech Republic is famous for.

 

2016 Skoda Superb dashboard

 

2016 Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI back seat - rear space

I never heard anyone complaining about space in the older car, and with larger dimensions and an 80mm longer wheelbase, there is even more legroom, knee-room and elbow room in the newer Superb. I think a reclining rear seat would have been a better way to utilize all that excess space in the back. The boot size is enormous too – 625 litres with the rear seats up and 1,760 litres with the rear seats folded – more than what you get in many SUVs. The dashboard is similar to the Octavia and the perfectly sized 3-spoke steering wheel is carried over from the older car.

 

 

The new Superb is loaded with features like adaptive bi-Xenon headlamps, 12-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, leather upholstery, 8-airbags, traction control, stability control, front and rear parking sensors, etc. But this manual gearbox equipped model which I was testing is available only in the base Style variant and it misses out on a rear parking camera and a rear seat automatic climate control – features which should have been standard on a car this large. It does get SmartLink though, which is MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

 

2016 Skoda Superb SmartLink

You have to opt for the higher spec L&K variant to get the rear camera, automatic climate control for the rear seats, an excellent Canton audio system, virtual pedal for the boot release, perforated leather seats, air-conditioned front seats, tyre pressure monitoring system, etc. But the L&K variant only gets the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. “You win some, you lose some”, is perfectly apt here. Yes I know, the Superb is primarily a chauffeur driven vehicle and you sit at the back and relax. But you will be missing out on a lot of driving fun if you do that. The 7-speed automatic is good too, but with the 6-speed manual the involvement with the car is on a totally different level. Choose wisely I would say (hint: 6-speed manual).

 

Currently the only competition for the Superb is the Toyota Camry petrol and its hybrid variant. The Camry is two steps ahead in overall refinement but the chassis setup and the CVT sap the fun out of the driving experience. The Superb is also cheaper than the Camry by probably a good INR 10 lakh and we'll see an addition to the competition soon, in the form of the Honda Accord Hybrid. 

 

The new Superb 1.8 TSI MT then is the perfect car for weekdays when you drive sensibly to work as well as on weekends when you can go fast while carrying the family closet full of vacation stuff.

 

2016 Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI MT Specifications:

Engine – 1,798cc, 4-cylinder turbo petrol with direct injection | 177bhp @ 4,000-6,200rpm & 320Nm @ 1,450-3,900rpm

Drivetrain – 6-speed manual | front engine, front-wheel drive

Speed – 0-100 kph in 8 seconds | top speed 232 kph

Average Fuel Consumption – 8.9 kpl

Dimensions – 4,861 x 1,864 x 1,483 mm (l x w x h)

Wheelbase – 2,841 mm

Ground Clearance – 164mm

Weight – 1,494kg

Boot Space – 625 litres | 1,760 litres with second row folded

Fuel Tank – 66 litres

Turning Circle – 11.1 metres

Wheels & Tyres – 215/55 R17

Price as tested of 1.8 TSI MT (on-road Mumbai) – approximately INR 28.63 lakhs

 

 

Words by Vaibhav Yedavi

Photos by Anuj Malandkar & Amith Bhagwan

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